Sunday, September 11, 2016

September 11, Fifteen Years Later

Today, September 11, is the 15th anniversary of the most horrific terror event to ever occur on U.S. soil, the fall of the twin World Trade Center towers. I can tell you where I was on that day at that hour as I’m sure millions of people can. It is a day we will never forget.

I had arrived in New York at 3 a.m. that morning (my plane from Phoenix had mechanical problems and was 5 hours late). I checked into a Days Inn Hotel in Newark, N.J. and awoke around 9 a.m., turned on the TV and saw what was happening.

I was in New York and New Jersey to publicize my new book on surviving grief, “I Have No Intention of Saying Good-bye,” that had just been published. I had contacted bookstores in the area and a TV station, where I was going to be interviewed. Needless to say, the interview didn’t happen that day, nor for the next seven days that I was stuck in the area because of plane cancellations. Too much was going on, and the TV station was kind enough to let me come back months later for the interview. The bookstores and compassionate friends groups where I was to speak let me go on with the show. But as you can guess, the bookstores were quite empty; everyone was at home or visiting those they knew who were part of the tragedy. The compassionate friends groups had a good turnout and most commented as to how timely my book was then.

A few days after getting home I was contacted by the FBI and asked if I had seen anything that night or the next morning. I hadn’t. It turns out that one of the hijackers was right next door to me. Pretty scary!

We now have a beautiful, poignant memorial in place along with a museum and many memories. Thousands come every day to see it and especially on 9/11 to honor those killed, first responders and everyone who helped to save lives in the aftermath. In the classroom teachers are utilizing age-appropriate lesson plans and teaching students about the importance of remembering 9/11. On social media, you can share your acts of commemoration, tributes and/or messages of remembrance with hashtag #Honor911 or be part of the volunteer efforts.

Since 2001, individuals and organizations have responded to 9/11 with service and volunteer efforts, many supporting the philanthropic wishes and interests of those killed on 9/11. In 2009, this work was formally acknowledged and supported with the establishment of the September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance. Organized by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNRS), a federal agency, the official page can be found here: . Download tool kits for the National Day of Service and Remembrance that offer resources for "do-it-yourself" and age-appropriate discussions around service and 9/11.

It is dedicated to keeping alive the spirit of unity and compassion that arose in response to the 9/11 attacks. They promote the annual observance of September 11 as a day of charitable service and doing good deeds. Many ways exist for you to get involved on this day.

In the museum, the memorial exhibition, In Memoriam, commemorates the lives of those who perished on September 11, 2001 and provides visitors with the opportunity to learn about the men, women and children who died. Visitors enter the exhibition along a corridor in which portrait photographs of the nearly 3,000 victims form a "Wall of Faces," communicating the scale of human loss.

Nearby, touchscreen tables allow visitors to discover additional information about each person, including photographs, images of objects and audio remembrances by family, friends and coworkers. Rotating selections of personal artifacts are also featured. An inner chamber presents profiles of individual victims in a dignified sequence through photographs, biographical information and audio recordings.

If you have something you’d like to contribute to the museum, get in touch with  them.

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